LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned on Friday from an overseas tour to face multiple crises, including the latest resignation of a senior Conservative from his scandal-hit government.
The embattled leader found his ruling Tories mired in another controversy about sexual impropriety shortly after he landed back in Britain from Nato summit.
In a letter to Johnson, Conservative MP Chris Pincher announced he was quitting as deputy chief whip after admitting he drank “far too much” and “embarrassed myself and other people” late on Wednesday.
Reports said he had been accused of groping two men in front of others at the exclusive Carlton Club in London, prompting complaints to the Conservatives.
His departure from its whips’ office — charged with enforcing party discipline and standards — marks the latest allegation of sexual misconduct by Tories.
Conservative MP Neil Parish resigned in April after watching pornography on his mobile phone in the House of Commons. That prompted a by-election in his previously safe seat which the party went on to lose in a historic victory for the opposition Liberal Democrats.
Johnson himself has been embroiled in various scandals, including the so-called “Partygate” affair that led his own lawmakers to trigger a no-confidence vote in him in early June that he narrowly survived.
The 58-year-old premier still faces a parliamentary probe into whether he lied to MPs over the lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street.
The controversies come with Britain battling a worsening cost-of-living crisis and a summer of strikes by various unions over wages and working conditions.
Meanwhile, the country continues to struggle to adapt to Brexit and is risking a possible trade war with the European Union by unilaterally overhauling the special deal it agreed with the bloc for Northern Ireland.
The Financial Times reported on Friday that Britain’s trade performance this year has fallen to its worst level since records began, adding to the pound’s recent slide.
A growing chorus of critics argue Johnson’s government is too distracted by its own woes to focus on these mounting challenges.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2022